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Behold the world's most extraordinary hotels

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Extraordinary is a word that gets bandied about a fair bit in the world of travel, whether it's a chocolate-themed train journey through the Alps or a sponsored run amid the anicent ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

When Lonely Planet deems something extraordinary, however, we know to sit up and take notice.

The respected travel franchise has launched its first ever collection of the world's best plays to stay this week, with a budget-friendly backpackers hostel in Rio (one of the world's most expensive cities), a tree house in Laos and a sprawling sandcastle in Rajasthan all making the shortlist.

The team at Lonely Planet drew up their recommendations over three categories: best value, best eco-friendly accommodation and most extraordinary.

"We’re delighted with our first ever list of top hotels," said LonelyPlanet.com editor Tom Hall, who was part of the expert panel who selected the finalists. "This collection is one of a kind we believe, as it is put together by the most well- travelled people on earth."

Grab a cup of tea and indulge your wanderlust with a look at just a few of the incredible places that made the cut, below.

Mihir Gahr, Rajasthan, India

Arising out of the golden sands of the Marwar desert region in southwestern Rajasthan, this self-professed "Fort of the Sun" is in a class of its own when it comes to having that wow factor. Topping Lonely Planet's list of extraordinary places to stay, its unique architecture takes inspiration from surrounding rural villages, with tall mud walls, decorative bird frescoes and peacocks in the acacia trees outside.

Planet Baobab, Gweta, Botswana

Stay in a traditional mud or grass hut at Planet Baobab on Botswana’s Makgadigadi Pan (rated second most extraordinary place to stay by Lonely Planet). This vast collection of salt pans - the world's largest - forms a surreal and arid landscape dotted with baobab trees. As dusk draws in, you can watch elephants gather at a watering hole as the sun goes down over the Kalahari desert.

The Backpack, Cape Town, South Africa

The Backpack tops Lonely Planet's list of budget accommodation. It's been running since 1990 and features cool design details such as Xhosa beadwork canvases, as well as quirky room options from safari tents to an attic suite. It also contributes money to its employees' college funds.

Bulungula Backpackers, South Africa

Located on South Africa's breathtaking Wild Coast, Bulungula Lodge features direct access to picturesque rolling hills, lagoons and coastline with dolphins and whales. The community of Nqileni village owns 40% of the lodge and is an integral part of daily life here, so visitors may well be invited into mud huts for a cup of tea or can learn maize stamping, traditional food preparation, beer brewing and firewood collecting. Bulungula Backpackers comes second on Lonely Planet's list of top eco stays and runs on solar power.

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